The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)

Molly’s father was a sea captain. He built little ships, he had a tattoo, and sometimes he would read The Little Mermaid to Molly. He was also a mean drunk that would do terrible things to his daughter. Terrible, horrible things.

The Witch Who Came from the Sea is the story of Molly, a woman played by Millie Perkins who floats through life, drinks heavily, takes too many pills, and has an intensely sadistic streak. To say she is into BDSM when the mood strikes her is to severely undercut just how terrifying she can be when it happens. She has a sister who doesn’t appear to be all there, a coworker that unwittingly supports her addiction, and an older boss that serves as a sort of boyfriend named Long John. For some reason, she never goes crazy on Long John, but as he realizes the truth of what Molly has been doing, he makes the call to deal with the problem. The only real support Molly seems to have are in her adoring nephews, Tad, and Tripoli, though they’re too young to really be good judges of truth.

While the movie starts off innocently enough with Molly taking Tad and Tripoli to the beach to tell them of her idolized vision of their grandfather, it quickly reveals the sadistic ideas that Molly hides as she stares at male bodybuilders, their barely-concealed loins, and her fantasies of how they could die. She doesn’t act on them…but she soon finds herself in what appears to be a fantasy threesome with two star football players for a drug-fueled sex romp. The fun ends when Molly takes a razor and saws off their testicles. As the police hone in on her, Molly meets various actors at the behest of Long John, breaks one man’s hand after trying to bite off his penis, and then begins a tryst with a man who stars in shaving ads. She then comes in while he’s shaving and carves him up using his safety razor, and when Long John finds her covered in blood in his bed, he begins to really suspect what Molly is doing.

All of this stems from sexual abuse that Molly endured as a child by her father, and she has repressed it to the point she empathizes and idolizes him, refusing to recall any of the things he’d do to her. When the memories come back, she either lashes out at a man or drinks heavily and takes too many pills. Her connection to her father goes so far, she even has the same mermaid design tattooed onto her stomach that her father had, and her reality is almost entirely comprised of what she sees on the television set.

Yeah, this is a messed up movie. It features multiple long shots of actress Millie Perkins topless as well as a few other women, a fair amount of blood, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual abuse, dismembered corpses in a weird dream sequence that repeats a few times, and violence that, while just off screen or hidden from the viewer, may be even more terrible as a result. As a result of all this excess, The Witch Who Came from the Sea easily landed itself on the Video Nasty list in the UK. I don’t want to call it sleazy, but it does feel pretty gross. Mostly I feel bad for Molly, because her problems all stem from a trauma she had no control over as a child, so while her crimes are horrific, nasty, and make me squirm in my man parts, I don’t want to blame her entirely for what she’s done, even if it is terrible.

No way around it, Molly ain’t all there. And everyone else is gonna suffer for it.

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